Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 299, Issue 8, pp 1433–1441 | Cite as

Nectar ecology of Datura ferox (Solanaceae): an invasive weed with nocturnal flowers in agro-ecosystems from central Argentina

  • Carolina Torres
  • Mariana Mimosa
  • Leonardo Galetto
Original Article


Plant–pollinator interactions provide highly important ecological functions, and are influenced by floral nectar characteristics. The night blooming Datura ferox is an excellent model to test general hypotheses on the relationship between nectar traits (e.g., nectar secretion patterns, nectar chemical composition), pollinators and reproductive success for invasive, weedy species in highly modified ecosystems as crop fields. We hypothesized an adjustment between nectar composition and secretion dynamics through flower anthesis and the activity and requirements of nocturnal pollinators. Nectar chemical analyses showed low quantities of amino acids and lipids, phenolics, and alkaloids were not detected. D. ferox showed sucrose-dominant nectar with comparable amount of hexoses. Sugar proportions did not vary between populations or during flowering season. Most nectar is secreted before flower opening. Nectar resorption was detected at the end of anthesis. Experimentally drained flowers of both populations increased nectar production up to 50 % in the total amount of sugar per flower compared to control flowers. Nectar standing crop was relatively constant during the flowering season, but differences were detected between populations. Nectar traits of D. ferox would be favoring cross-pollination and maintaining seed production of this weed, since recently open flowers display a higher amount of nectar and they can renew nectar after a pollinator visit or reabsorb it at the end of anthesis. This nectar source may be important for native pollinators considering that human-induced forest fragmentation is related with the impoverishment of native flora from agro-ecosystems.


Nectar production Nectar sugar composition Hawkmoth pollination Weed reproduction 



We thank two anonymous reviewers for their suggestions and comments that improved early versions of this paper, agronomic crop producers for field facilities, Julia Galetto for text editing and English advice, Academia Nacional de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales and Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) for fellowships to the first author. The study was supported by CONICET and Secretaría de Ciencia y Tecnología de la Universidad Nacional de Córdoba. LG and CT are members of Carrera del Investigador from CONICET.


  1. Adler LS, Bronstein JL (2004) Attracting antagonists: does floral nectar increase leaf herbivory? Ecology 85:1519–1526CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alarcón R, Davidowitz G, Bronstein JL (2008) Nectar usage in a southern Arizona hawkmoth community. Ecol Entomol 33:503–509CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Amorim F, Galetto L, Sazima M (2013) Behind the pollination syndrome: nectar ecology and the role of diurnal and nocturnal pollinators in the reproductive success of Inga sessilis (Fabaceae). Plant Biol 15:317–327PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baker HG, Baker I (1975) Studies of nectar constitution and pollinator-plant coevolution. In: Gilbert LE, Raven PH (eds) Coevolution of animals and plants. Columbia Univ Press, New York, pp 126–152Google Scholar
  5. Baker HG, Baker I (1983) Floral nectar sugar constituents in relation to pollinator type. In: Jones CE, Little RJ (eds) Handbook of experimental pollination biology. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, pp 117–141Google Scholar
  6. Ballaré CL, Scopel AL, Ghersa CM, Sánchez RA (1987) The population ecology of Datura ferox in soybean crops. A simulation approach incorporating seed dispersal. Agr Ecosyst Environ 19:177–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bronstein J, Huxman T, Horvath B, Farabee M, Davidowitz G (2009) Reproductive biology of Datura wrightii: the benefits of a herbivorous pollinator. Ann Bot 103:1435–1443PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chalcoff VR, Aizen MA, Galetto L (2006) Nectar concentration and composition of 26 species from the temperate forest of South America. Ann Bot 97:413–421PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cocucci AA, Galetto L, Sérsic A (1992) El síndrome floral de Caesalpinia gilliesii (Fabaceae-Caesalpinioideae). Darwiniana 31:111–135Google Scholar
  10. Cruden RW, Hermann SM, Peterson S (1983) Patterns of nectar production and plant pollinator coevolution. In: Bentley B, Elias T (eds) The biology of nectaries. Columbia University Press, New York, pp 80–125Google Scholar
  11. Faegri K, van der Pijl L (1979) The principles of pollination ecology, 3rd edn. Pergamon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  12. Galetto L (1997) Flower structure, nectar chemical composition in three Argentine Apocynaceae. Flora 192:197–207Google Scholar
  13. Galetto L, Bernardello G (1993) Nectar secretion pattern and removal effects in three species of Solanaceae. Can J Bot 71:1394–1398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Galetto L, Bernardello G (2003) Nectar sugar composition in angiosperms from Chaco and Patagonia (Argentina): an animal visitor’s matter? Plant Syst Evol 238:69–86Google Scholar
  15. Galetto L, Bernardello G (2004) Floral nectaries, nectar production dynamics and chemical composition in six Ipomoea species (Convolvulaceae) in relation to pollinators. Ann Bot 94:269–280PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Galetto L, Bernardello G (2005) Nectar. In: Dafni A, Kevan P, Husband BC (eds) Pollination ecology: a practical approach. Enviroquest, Cambridge, pp 156–212Google Scholar
  17. Galetto L, Bernardello G, Rivera G (1997) Nectar, nectaries, flower visitors, and breeding system in five terrestrial Orchidaceae from central Argentina. J Plant Res 110:393–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Goyret J, Markwell PM, Raguso RA (2008) Context- and scale-dependent effects of floral CO2 on nectar foraging by Manduca sexta. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105:4565–4570PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Grant V, Grant KA (1983) Behavior of hawkmoths on flowers of Datura meteloides. Bot Gaz 144:280–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Guerenstein PG, Yepez EA, van Haren J, Williams DG, Hildebrand JG (2004) Floral CO2 emission may indicate food abundance to nectar feeding moths. Naturwissenschaften 91:329–333PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. SPSS Inc (1999) SPSS Base 10.0. SPSS, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  22. Kelber A (2003) Sugar preferences and feeding strategies in the hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum. J Comp Physiol A 189:661–666CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kessler RD, Baldwin IT (2006) Making sense of nectar scents: the effects of nectar secondary metabolites on floral visitors of Nicotiana attenuata. Plant J 49:840–854CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Koptur S (1984) Outcrossing and pollinator limitation of fruit set: breeding systems of Neotropical Inga trees (Fabaceae: Mimosoidae). Evolution 38:1130–1143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. López H, Galetto L (2002) Flower structure and reproductive biology of Bougainvillea stipitata (Nyctaginaceae). Plant Biol 4:508–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Moré M, Sérsic AN, Cocucci AA (2006a) Specialized use of pollen vectors by Caesalpinia gilliesii, a legume species with brush-type flowers. Biol J Linnean Soc 88:579–592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Moré M, Sérsic AN, Cocucci AA (2006b) Restriction of pollinator assemblage through flower length and width in three long-tongued hawkmoth-pollinated species of Mandevilla (Apocynaceae, Apocynoideae). Ann Missouri Bot Gard 94:485–504CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Nepi M, Stpicznska M (2008) The complexity of nectar: secretion and resorption dynamically regulate features. Naturwissenschaften 95:177–184PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nicolson SW, Thornburg RW (2007) Nectar chemistry. In: Nicolson SW, Nepi M, Pacini E (eds) Nectaries and nectar. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 19–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nuñez-Farfán J, Cabrales-Vargas RA, Dirzo R (1996) Mating system consequences on resistance to herbivory and life history traits in Datura stramonium. Am J Bot 89:1041–1049CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Percival MS (1961) Types of nectar in angiosperms. New Phytol 60:235–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Petanidou T (2005) Sugars in Mediterranean floral nectars: an ecological and evolutionary approach. J Chem Ecol 31:1065–1088PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Petanidou T, van Laere A, Ellis WN, Smets E (2006) What shapes amino acid and sugar composition in Mediterranean floral nectars? Oikos 115:155–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pyke GH (1991) What does it cost a plant to produce floral nectar? Nature 350:58–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Raguso RA (2004) Flowers as sensory billboards: progress towards an integrated understanding of floral advertisement. Curr Opin Plant Biol 7:434–440PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Raguso RA, Willis MA (2002) Synergy between visual and olfactory cues in nectar feeding by naive hawkmoths, Manduca sexta. Anim Behav 64:685–695CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Raguso RA, Willis MA (2005) Synergy between visual and olfactory cues in nectar feeding by wild hawkmoths, Manduca sexta. Anim Behav 69:407–418CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Recasens J, Calvet V, Cirujeda A, Conesa JA (2005) Phenological and demographic behaviour of an exotic invasive weed in agroecosystems. Biol Inv 7:17–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Riffell JA, Alarcón R, Abrell L, Davidowtz G, Bronstein JL, Hildebrand JG (2008) Behavioral consequences of innate preferences and olfactory learning in hawkmoth-flower interactions. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105:3404–3409PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sweeley SC, Bentley R, Makita M, Wells WW (1963) Gas liquid chromatography of trimethylsilyl derivatives of sugar and related substances. J Am Chem Soc 85:2497–2507CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Thom C, Guerenstein PG, Mechaber WL, Hildebrand JG (2004) Floral CO2 reveals flower profitability to moths. J Chem Ecol 30:1285–1288PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Torres C, Galetto L (1998) Patterns and implications of floral nectar secretion, chemical composition, removal effects, and standing crop in Mandevilla pentlandiana (Apocynaceae). Bot J Linnean Soc 127:207–223Google Scholar
  43. Torres C, Mimosa M, Ferreira MF, Galetto L (2013) Reproductive strategies of Datura ferox L., an abundant invasive weed in agro-ecosystems from central Argentina. FloraGoogle Scholar
  44. Vesprini JL, Galetto L (2000) The reproductive biology of Jaborosa integrifolia (Solanaceae): why its fruits are so rare? Plant Syst Evol 225:15–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Von Helversen O (1993) Adaptations of flowers to the pollination by Glossophagine bats. In: Barthlott W (ed) Plant–animal interactions in tropical environments. Museum Alexander Koenig, Bonn, pp 41–59Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carolina Torres
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mariana Mimosa
    • 2
  • Leonardo Galetto
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Diversidad Biológica y Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y NaturalesUniversidad Nacional de CórdobaCórdobaArgentina
  2. 2.Instituto Multidisciplinario de Biología Vegetal (CONICET-UNC)CórdobaArgentina

Personalised recommendations